A visit to Wairakei Terraces Thermal Pools promised to “revitalise our minds, bodies, and souls”. That sounded pretty good, it was time to “take the waters” and see if the pools lived up to their promise. A little pricey, we felt, but producing our Gold Cards knocked a reasonable number of dollars off the entry price.
We paid our money and received a safety talk, all very necessary these days, including the all important message not to put our heads under the water. After getting changed we walked down the path to find four pools of varying temperatures, ringed with native trees. It was such a pretty setting, steam was rising from the water, birds were singing in the trees,and a gaggle of young bikini clad American lassies daintily stepped into the pool.
Pools at Wairakei Terraces
We soon got chatting to a staff member who was skimming the pool of leaves dropped from the trees overhead and she told us a little of the history. The terraces between the pools are man made, but the silica build up is completely natural, and are reminiscent (in a much smaller way) of the beautiful Pink and White Terraces of Tarawera which were lost in 1886 after volcanic eruptions. The silica enriched waters of the pools is drawn from 1.5km underground, piped into cooling pools before cascading over the small terraces.
Enjoying the waters
We never did go into the hottest of the four pools, but moved slowly around the other three. The American girls departed and we had the complex to ourselves, relaxing in the water, enjoying the scenery and the sunshine. This is the life! On getting changed again we read a notice affixed to the changing room wall. It recommended not showering before getting dressed – rather leaving the minerals on our skin to reap the benefits. Just might make us look ten years younger, perhaps!
Looking around the outside of the complex we could see the geyser erupting boiling water through the fence in mighty spurts. The power of Mother Nature is immense in these geothermal areas - such a lot of natural force at play here.
Boiling water, geyser, and plenty of steam
Right next to Wairakei Terraces was a road leading up to a lookout over the Wairakei Geothermal Power – steam field. 60 wells up to 2000m deep tap into the field producing 1400 tonnes of steam per hour. transmitted to the power station through a series of insulated pipes.
Expansion loops over the road
The view from the lookout was amazing, pipes going every which way, steam puffing here and there, and workmen working in several areas of the pipeline. We didn’t realize just how extensive the pipeline was.
Panoramic view from the lookout
Views of the steam field
We found a friendly tourist from Korea at the lookout who happily took our photo for us.
To show we were there
As we drove through the gates back at camp, Robin exclaimed that he recognized the van next to us which had arrived while we had been out and about. And he was right – it was great to catch up with our friends from the Wairarapa Caravan Club, Harry and Lorraine, and Gary and Elva. It was just in time for 4zees too!
Lorraine, Harry, Elva and Gary